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Four Biggest Mistakes you can avoid in your RTI Application

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Priya De

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The Right to Information Act 2005 empowers every citizen to ask for information from Government Organisations. This information can be about your own personal case or more complex Government Policy. The Act also empowers us to take photocopies of the Government records and also online data in a form of CD. However, often PIO being Government Servant who perhaps is also the custodian of the information has a conflict of interest in giving out such information.

Every Government Official at one point or the other has been trained to deceive politely. The RTI reply is no exception. Many times, the information given is full but empty. And they use smart writing skills to give but hide.

If you go through the various threads posted at our forums here , you will realize that most of the battle is won or lost during the framing of the questions itself. Our experienced RTI Experts and team members continuously go on improving the RTI Application questions on the user's requests. Let us now see what are the biggest mistakes you can avoid in your RTI Application.

Asking 'Why' in the RTI Application

Asking 'Why' in the RTI Application

As per the RTI Act, the information being asked should be available in any form. The information cannot be created. Thus if a question is asked "why my speed post has not been delivered", probably, the PIO will straightway reject the application and quote nicely the RTI Act Para in the reply. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid 'WHY' from your RTI Application instead documents which can prove they 'WHY' should be asked. For example, to get the reason why the Speed post was not delivered, you should ask 'Provide me the copy of the Postmen beat register of {date}'.

Addressing questions pertaining to multiple PIO

Addressing questions pertaining to multiple PIO 

As per RTI Act Section 6 (3) (ii) if the RTI Application is made for the subject matter which is not closely associated, the public authority, to which such application is made, shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority. Now, this is a booby trap. Though Central Information Commission has critically examined this still you will keep on getting the letter from one PIO to another that 'As per section 6 (3) (ii), your RTI application has been transferred to concerned PIO'. This means that you will never get the correct reply. The best course of action is to do some homework by visiting websites of the Organisation and finding the correct PIO.

Asking for Voluminous records

Asking for Voluminous records 

If you ask for information which is too voluminous, the PIO will apply section 7(9) stating that "it disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question." Thus asking for Muster roll records for 4 year period will fit the case of rejection. Though PIO cannot reject the application, there are fair chances that information will not get supplied. It is always advisable that the information period should be short. Further, if PIO failed to apply 7 (9), he will ask you to deposit exorbitant photocopy charges for all the records.

Asking for third party information without proving public interest

Asking for third party information without proving public interest 

Now this is the most debated and contested issue in terms of RTI request. If you ask for a third party information always remember to include 'Public Interest' clause into it. Without 'Public Interest' petition, the PIO will immediately reject it by quoting Section 8 (1) (j) & Section 11 of the RTI Act. You can read our Explanation on what is third Party and various decisions relating to them here! There is a potential issue of PIO applying 'Privacy' clause of RTI. Therefore, it is suggested that as far as possible information about third party should be avoided, however, if at all it is but important, then always justify your RTI Application with 'how disclosure of the third party is in public interest'. You can use the corruption angle exposure while justifying Public Interest.

There are many such examples and pitfalls which you may find it over on forums and from experts. If you think of any more, please do add it in the comments.

 

 

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